THE crisis-ridden and broke MDC-T has until the end of the week to settle a US$130 000 debt accumulated at Adelaide Acres in Harare for food and accommodation after a district chairpersons meeting held last month, as the party’s financial and leadership woes mount.
The party is also struggling to pay its workers amid indications it would not be able to do so at the end of the month.
“The situation is precarious,” said a senior party official, adding “even the president (MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai), who has been pleading for time to settle the Adelaide Acres bill, is also in debt in his personal capacity. Tsvangirai owes a prominent white businessman (name supplied) US$25 000 and has been trying to offset part of his debts by selling his cattle kept at Gabbari Farm in Sesombe in the Zhombe constituency.”
The official said Tsvangirai has 181 cattle at the farm. It is not clear how he got the farm.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka hinted at both Tsvangirai and the party’s financial problems, but denied he owed US$25 000 to the businessman.
“It would be a fascinating world if individuals were forced to make public disclosures on the specifics of their debts,” Tamborinyoka wrote in his e-mailed response to questions from the Zimbabwe Independent.
“Like every other person, Tsvangirai has debts just as he is also owed money by others. But for the record, Tsvangirai has never borrowed anything from this businessman and does not owe him a dime.”
He described the plight of the party workers as a sad predicament, but referred all questions on the issue to party secretary-general Tendai Biti.
“President Tsvangirai is aware of the sad predicament of the party’s hard-working staff. You may ask the relevant people responsible for issues of staff and remuneration; in this case the party’s secretary-general, who chairs the finance and administration committee of the party or the party’s treasury,” said Tamborinyoka.
Calls to Biti went unanswered while a text message had not been responded to at the time of going to print.
Tamborinyoka also attacked the media for “conflicting narratives depicting a Tsvangirai who is both filthy-rich and a pauper leaving innocent readers of newspapers bemused and vexed”.
“Tsvangirai is currently traversing the length and breadth of the country engaging ordinary Zimbabweans in carving out solutions to the problems that we face as a people and as a country. I am not sure whether his cattle, his hens and chickens that you allege he is selling will in any way alleviate the plight faced by ordinary Zimbabweans, which plight should be our collective national pre-occupation,” Tamborinyoka said.
Apart from financial problems, the party is also battling to deal with serious internal strife generated by among other things a letter written in January by deputy treasurer Elton Mangoma suggesting Tsvangirai should step down after losing last year’s general elections to President Robert Mugabe in the interests of leadership renewal. Mangoma has since been suspended, a move declared unconstitutional by Biti, thus setting the stage for a bruising power struggle in the party.